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by jiuna Big World courtesy Michael Brooking Photography

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whisking warm rain on a gold and green meadow interrupted by bursts of vermillion. a brown body, long haired, naked glides, blurry, glimpsed from the waterfall that is the glass window. it is neither warm nor dark inside. the sunlight is still sleek, gentle through the cracks of the wooden house. there is the cadence of crickets harmonizing with the pitter-patter, and just awoken is a fuzzy child with thin hair, and light. watching, the child senses there is something about that body that is serene, and inviting.

there is only one thing to do. the child removes first her red sweater, and next her white leather shoes. these she leaves on the bed. the stockings she decides to keep. her left knee is still caked with blood and unless the scab is soaked through, to peel the sheers off would be to invite hurting and messiness.

the door gives easily, and the rain though furious sounding, is just a mist, is like the feeling of a face close to a just-popped can of soda. outside smells of earth and water and leaves, and nothing else. the body is already across the field and stepping onto another, and the child, with purpose, follows, but delicate.

the mud yields beneath her feet and cakes around her stockings. the grass is itchy spikes that catch on the silk. as she walks she takes off her skirt. her shirt. discarding these things of her life that do not belong and never did. and when her stockings are gleaming, they come off, too, and sink in the field, a snake skin returning to earth. the knee bleeds a little, but the blood is washed away, mixing with the mud and the flakes of leaves stuck to her legs.

the figure does not stop walking, and the child does not stop following. at the end of the field is a row of trees. the figure passes through these and disappears. the child follows and sees that behind the row of trees and there is a little creek. it is rapid, and overflowing, turning quickly into a full-fledged river. and there the figure is standing, water swirling around its shins.

the child puts feet first in the water and then walks in until the ground gives way and she is sinking, and the water is to her waist, and then suddenly, her chest. she doesn't float or swim. she is nothing but a mass following the laws of physics. a weight, succumbing to gravity. she is under the rapids, tumbling and cartwheeling in the muddy blitz. there is no up or down, no "air" or "land", or "water" just chaos, and what ensues.

and soon, the child is carried off down the creek, the river, to the mouth, to the place where fresh water and sea water meet. first the sea takes her in like it takes in all the logs and bottles and ships, and turns them into driftwood and beach sand and silt. but her body is buoyant in the salt. and she rises, up, above, onto a wave and ebbs and flows like the tide, teasing. death or salvation, water or air. a giant wave. a pounding, crashing muscle of the ocean. she is carried aloft, impossibly high, and there is only the blue sky and the foam, and nothing else. silence.

then a pull, and a rush, and an incredible gushing, of water or blood, and the feel of one's heart like an iron anchor. slam, back onto the shore. after all, it is only a child, and promises have not yet been kept.

she sleeps for a long time, soaked through and through. though the sea laps at her limbs, it has made up its mind and does not intend again to swallow her.

the sinking sun is a rose to her and the child awakens as if it were morn. what is there to do but get up, cry, and afterwards, wander around, away from the sea, until she is found.